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Sino-Vietnamese War

This article is about the 20th century war. For other Sino-Vietnamese wars in general, see Sino-Vietnamese War (disambiguation).

Sino-Vietnamese War
(Third Indochina War)
Part of the Indochina Wars and the Cold War
DateFebruary 17, 1979Template:Spaced ndashMarch 16, 1979
(3 weeks and 6 days)
LocationChina–Vietnam border

Both sides claim victory

Small loss of Vietnamese territory along Sino-Vietnamese border to China in Cao Bằng and Lạng Sơn Provinces, namely Nam Quan Gate and half of Bản Giốc Falls.[1][2][3]
23x15px China 23x15px Vietnam
Commanders and leaders
23x15px Deng Xiaoping
23x15px Yang Dezhi
23x15px Xu Shiyou
23x15px Tôn Đức Thắng
23x15px Lê Duẩn
23x15px Văn Tiến Dũng
23x15px Đàm Quang Trung
23x15px Vũ Lập

Chinese claim: 200,000 PLA with 400-550 tanks[4][5]

Vietnamese claim: 600,000 PLA infantry and 400 tanks from Kunming and Guangzhou Military Districts
70,000–100,000 regular force, 150,000 local troops and militia[6]
Casualties and losses

Vietnamese estimate: 62,000 casualties, including 26,000 deaths.[7][8]
Chinese estimate: 6,954 killed, 14,800 wounded.[5][9] (Another Chinese source lists 8,531 killed and over 21,000 wounded)[10]

238 prisoners[11][12]

Chinese estimate: 30,000 killed[8]-57,000 soldiers killed and 70,000 militias killed.[9]
(Another Chinese source estimates 50,000 casualties)[13]
Vietnamese claim: 100,000 civilians killed, no figures of military[5]

1,636 prisoners[11][12]

Template:Campaignbox Sino-Vietnamese War

Sino-Vietnamese War
Chinese name
Traditional Chinese 對越自衛反擊戰
Simplified Chinese 对越自卫反击战
Vietnamese name
Vietnamese Chiến tranh biên giới Việt-Trung

The Sino-Vietnamese War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh biên giới Việt-Trung; simplified Chinese: 中越战争; traditional Chinese: 中越戰爭; pinyin: zhōng-yuè zhànzhēng), also known as the Third Indochina War, was a brief border war fought between the People's Republic of China and the Socialist Republic of Vietnam in early 1979. China launched the offensive in response to Vietnam's invasion and occupation of Cambodia in 1978 (which ended the rule of the Chinese-backed Khmer Rouge).[14] Chinese Vice-premier Deng Xiaoping saw this as a Soviet attempt "to extend its evil tentacles to Southeast Asia and...carry out expansion there," which reflected the long-standing Sino-Soviet split.[15] As the former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger notes: "[w]hatever the shortcomings of its execution, the Chinese campaign reflected a serious, long-term strategic analysis."[16]

The Chinese entered northern Vietnam and captured some of the cities near the border. On March 6, 1979, China declared that the gate to Hanoi was open and that their punitive mission had been achieved. Chinese forces retreated back across the Vietnamese border into China. Both China and Vietnam claimed victory in the last of the Indochina Wars of the 20th century; as Vietnamese troops remained in Cambodia until 1989, it can be said that China failed to achieve the goal of dissuading Vietnam from involvement in Cambodia. Following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the Sino-Vietnamese border was finalized.

China demonstrated to its Cold War Communist adversary, the Soviet Union, that they were unable to protect their new Vietnamese ally.[17] Following worsening relations between the Soviet Union and China as a result of the Sino-Soviet split, as many as 1.5 million Chinese troops were stationed along the Soviet-Chinese border, in preparation for a full-scale war.


The Sino-Vietnamese War (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh biên giới Việt-Trung) is also known in English as the Third Indochina War, to distinguish it from the First Indochina War, and the Vietnam War, also known as the Second Indochina War.[18] The war is also known in Vietnam as the War against Chinese expansionism (Vietnamese: Chiến tranh chống bành trướng Trung Hoa).[19]

In China, the war is referred to as the Defensive Counterattack against Vietnam (Chinese: 对越自卫反击战; pinyin: Duì Yuè zìwèi fǎnjī zhàn).[20]


While the First Indochina War emerged from the complex situation following World War II and the Vietnam War exploded from the unresolved aftermath of political relations with the first, the Third Indochina War again followed the unresolved problems of the earlier wars.[21]

French colonialism and the First Indochina War

Main article: First Indochina War

Vietnam first became a French colony when France invaded in 1858. By the 1880s, the French had expanded their sphere of influence in Southeast Asia to include all of Vietnam, and by 1893 both Laos and Cambodia had become French colonies as well.[22] Rebellions against French colonial power were common up to World War I. The European war heightened revolutionary sentiment in Southeast Asia, and the independence-minded population rallied around revolutionaries such as Hồ Chí Minh and others, including royalists.

Prior to their attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese occupied French Indochina, but left civil administration to the Vichy French administration.[23][24] On 9 March 1945, fearing that the Vichy French were about to switch sides to support the Allies, the Japanese overthrew the Vichy administration and forces taking control of Indochina and establishing their own puppet administration, the Empire of Vietnam. The Japanese surrender in August 1945 created a power vacuum in Indochina, as the various political factions scrambled for control.[25]

The events leading to the First Indochina War are subject to historical dispute.[26] When the Viet Minh hastily sought to establish the Democratic Republic of Vietnam, the remaining French acquiesced while waiting for the return of French forces to the region.[24][27] The Kuomintang supported French restoration, but Viet Minh efforts towards independence were helped by Chinese communists under the Soviet Union's power. The Soviet Union at first indirectly supported Vietnamese communists, but later directly supported Hồ Chí Minh.[28][29] The Soviets nonetheless remained less supportive than China until after the Sino-Soviet split, during the time of Leonid Brezhnev when the Soviet Union became communist Vietnam's key ally.

The war itself involved numerous events that had major impacts throughout Indochina. Two major conferences were held to bring about a resolution. Finally, on July 20, 1954, the Geneva Conference resulted in a political settlement to reunite the country, signed with support from China, Russia, and Western European powers.[28] While the Soviet Union played a constructive role in the agreement, it again was not as involved as China.[28][30] The U.S. did not sign the agreement and swiftly moved to back South Vietnam.

Sino-Soviet split

Main article: Sino-Soviet split

The Chinese Communist Party and the Viet Minh had a long history. During the initial stages of the First Indochina War with France, the recently founded communist People's Republic of China continued the Russian mission to expand communism. Therefore, they aided the Viet Minh and became the connector between Soviets and the Vietminh. In early 1950, The Viet Minh fought independently from the 'Chinese Military Advisory Group' under Wei Guoqing. This was one of the reasons for China to cut the arms support for the Viet Minh.

After the death of Joseph Stalin in March 1953, relations between the Soviet Union and China began to deteriorate. Mao Zedong believed the new Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev had made a serious error in his Secret Speech denouncing Stalin in February 1956, and criticized the Soviet Union's interpretation of Marxism–Leninism, in particular Khrushchev's support for peaceful co-existence and its interpretation. This led to increasingly hostile relations, and eventually the Sino-Soviet split. From here, Chinese communists played a decreasing role in helping their former allies because the Viet Minh did not support China against the Soviets.

Following the death of Mao in September 1976, the overthrow of the Gang of Four and the ascent of Deng Xiaoping, the Chinese leadership would revise its own positions to become compatible with market aspects, denounce the Cultural Revolution, and collaborate with the US against the Soviet Union.

Vietnam War

Main article: Vietnam War

As France withdrew from a provisionally divided Vietnam in late 1954, the United States increasingly stepped in to support the non-communist leaders of South Vietnam due to the Domino theory, which theorized that if one nation would turn to communism, the surrounding nations were likely to fall like dominoes and become communist as well. The Soviet Union and North Vietnam became important allies together due to the fact that if South Vietnam was successfully taken over by North Vietnam, then communism in the far east would find its strategic position bolstered. In the eyes of the People's Republic of China, the growing Soviet-Vietnamese relationship was a disturbing development; they feared an encirclement by the less-than-hospitable Soviet sphere of influence.

The United States and the Soviet Union could not agree on a plan for a proposed 1956 election meant to unify the partitioned Vietnam. Instead, the South held a separate election that was widely considered fraudulent, leading to continued internal conflict with communist factions led by the Viet Cong that intensified through the late 1950s. With supplies and support from the Soviet Union, North Vietnamese forces became directly involved in the ongoing guerrilla war by 1959 and openly invaded the South in 1964.

The United States played an ever-increasing role in supporting South Vietnam through the period. The U.S. had supported French forces in the First Indochina War, sent supplies and military advisers to South Vietnam throughout the 1950s and early 1960s, and eventually took over most of the fighting against both North Vietnam and the Viet Cong by the mid-1960s. By 1968, over 500,000 American troops were involved in the Vietnam War. Due to a lack of clear military success and facing increasingly strident opposition to the war in the U.S., American forces began a slow withdrawal in 1969 while attempting to bolster South Vietnam's military so that they could take over the fighting. In accordance with the Paris Peace Accords by 29 March 1973 all U.S. combat forces had left South Vietnam, however North Vietnamese combat forces were allowed to remain in place. North Vietnam attacked South Vietnam in early 1975 and South Vietnam fell on 30 April 1975.

The People's Republic of China started talks with the United States in the early 1970s, culminating in high level meetings with Henry Kissinger and later Richard Nixon. These meetings contributed to a re-orientation of Chinese foreign policy toward the United States. Meanwhile, the People's Republic of China also supported the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia.


Although the Vietnamese Communists and the Khmer Rouge had previously cooperated, the relationship deteriorated when Khmer Rouge leader Pol Pot came to power and established Democratic Kampuchea on 17 April 1975. After numerous clashes along the border between Vietnam and Cambodia, and with encouragement from Khmer Rouge defectors fleeing a purge of the Eastern Zone, Vietnam invaded Cambodia on 25 December 1978. By 7 January 1979 Vietnamese forces had entered Phnom Penh and the Khmer Rouge leadership had fled to western Cambodia.

China attacks Vietnam

China, now under Deng Xiaoping, was starting the Chinese economic reform and opening trade with the West, in turn, growing increasingly defiant of the Soviet Union. On November 3, 1978, the Soviet Union and Vietnam signed a twenty-five year mutual defense treaty, which made Vietnam the "linchpin" in the Soviet Union's "drive to contain China."[31]

On January 1, 1979, Chinese Vice-premier Deng Xiaoping visited the United States for the first time and told American president Jimmy Carter: "The little child is getting naughty, it's time he be spanked." (original Chinese words: 小朋友不听话,该打打屁股了。).[32] On February 15, the first day that China could have officially announced the termination of the 1950 Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance, Deng Xiaoping declared that China planned to conduct a limited attack on Vietnam.

The reason cited for the attack was to support China's ally, the Khmer Rouge of Cambodia, in addition to the mistreatment of Vietnam's ethnic Chinese minority and the Vietnamese occupation of the Spratly Islands which were claimed by China. To prevent Soviet intervention on Vietnam's behalf, Deng warned Moscow the next day that China was prepared for a full-scale war against the Soviet Union; in preparation for this conflict, China put all of its troops along the Sino-Soviet border on an emergency war alert, set up a new military command in Xinjiang, and even evacuated an estimated 300,000 civilians from the Sino-Soviet border.[33] In addition, the bulk of China's active forces (as many as one-and-a-half million troops) were stationed along China's border with the Soviet Union.[34]

Order of Battle

Chinese forces

The Chinese force consisted of units from the Kunming Military Region (later abolished), Chengdu Military Region, Wuhan Military Region (later abolished) and Guangzhou Military Region, but commanded by the headquarters of Kunming Military Region on the western front and Guangzhou Military Region in the eastern front.

Some troops engaged in this war, especially engineering units, railway corps, logistical units and antiaircraft units, had been assigned to assist North Vietnam in its war against South Vietnam just a few years earlier during the Vietnam War. Contrary to the belief that over 600,000 Chinese troops entered North Vietnam, the actual number was only 200,000, while 600,000 Chinese troops were mobilized, of which 400,000 were deployed away from their original bases during the one month conflict.[citation needed]

The Chinese troop deployments were observed by U.S. spy satellites. In his state visit to the U.S. in 1979, the Chinese paramount leader Deng Xiaoping was presented with this information and asked to confirm the numbers. He replied that the information was completely accurate. After this public confirmation in the U.S., the domestic Chinese media were finally allowed to report on these deployments.[citation needed]

Vietnamese forces

The Vietnamese government claimed they only had a force of about 70,000 including several army regular divisions in its northern area. However, the Chinese estimates indicate more than twice this number. Some Vietnamese forces used American military equipment captured during the Vietnam War.

1st Military Region: commanded by Major General Dam Quang Trung, responsible for the defense at Northeast region.[35]

  • Main forces:
    • 3rd Infantry Division (Golden Star Division), consisted of 2nd Infantry Regiment, 12th Infantry Regiment, 141st Infantry Regiment and 68th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Dong Dang, Van Dang, Cao Loc and Lạng Sơn town of Lạng Sơn Province
    • 338th Infantry Division, consisted of 460th Infantry Regiment, 461st Infantry Regiment, 462nd Infantry Regiment and 208th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Loc Binh and Dinh Lap of Lạng Sơn Province
    • 346th Infantry Division (Lam Son Division), consisted of 246th Infantry Regiment, 677th Infantry Regiment, 851st Infantry Regiment and 188th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Tra Linh, Ha Quang and Hoa An of Cao Bằng Province
    • 325th-B Infantry Division, consisted of 8th Infantry Regiment, 41st Infantry Regiment, 288th Infantry Regiment and 189th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Tien Yen and Binh Lieu of Quảng Ninh Province
    • 242nd Infantry Brigade, located at coastlines and islands of Quảng Ninh Province
  • Local forces:
    • At Cao Bằng Province: 567th Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion, 1 battalion of air defense artillery and 7 infantry battalions
    • At Lạng Sơn Province: 123rd Infantry Regiment, 199th Infantry Regiment and 7 infantry battalions
    • At Quảng Ninh Province: 43rd Infantry Regiment, 244th Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion, 4 battalions of air defense artillery and 5 infantry battalions
  • Armed police forces (Border guard): 12th Mobile Regiment at Lang Son, 4 battalions at Cao Bang and Quang Ninh, some companies and 24 border posts

2nd Military Region: commanded by Major General Vu Lap, responsible for the defense at Northwest region.[citation needed] [35]

  • Main forces:
    • 316th Infantry Division (Bong Lau Division), consisted of 98th Infantry Regiment, 148th Infantry Regiment, 147th Infantry Regiment and 187th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Binh Lu and Phong Tho of Lai Châu Province
    • 345th Infantry Division, consisted of 118th Infantry Regiment, 121st Infantry Regiment, 124th Infantry Regiment and 190th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Bao Thang of Hoang Lien Son province
    • 326th Infantry Division, consisted of 19th Infantry Regiment, 46th Infantry Regiment, 541st Infantry Regiment and 200th Artillery Regiment. All were located at Tuan Giao and Dien Bien of Lai Châu Province
  • Local forces:
    • At Ha Tuyen: 122nd Infantry Regiment, 191st Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion and 8 infantry battalions
    • At Hoang Lien Son: 191st Infantry Regiment, 254th Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion and 8 infantry battalions
    • At Lai Châu: 193rd Infantry Regiment, 741st Infantry Regiment, 1 artillery battalion and 5 infantry battalions
  • Armed police forces (Border guard): 16th Mobile Regiment at Hoang Lien Son, some companies and 39 border posts

In addition, Vietnamese forces were supported by about 50,000 militia at each Military Region

Air force

  • Air Division 372 [36]
    • 1 Air Flight of ten F-5s (captured after Vietnam War)
    • 1 Air Flight of ten A-37s (captured after Vietnam War)
    • 1 Air Flight of seven UH-1s and three UH-7s (captured after Vietnam War)
  • Air Transport Regiment 919,[36] responsible for transporting troops
    • Several C-130, C-119 and C-47 (captured after Vietnam War
  • Air Division 371 [37]
    • Helicopter Regiment 916
      • Several Mi-6 and Mi-8
    • Air Transport Regiment 918
    • Fighter Regiment 923
      • Several MiG-17s and MiG-21

The Vietnam People's Air Force did not participate in the combat directly, instead they provided support to the ground troops, transported troops from Cambodia to northern Vietnam as well as performed reconnaissance purposes.

Air Defense [38]

  • Northern and Northwestern regions:
    • Air Defense Regiment 267
    • Air Defense Regiment 276
    • Air Defense Regiment 285
    • Air Defense Regiment 255
    • Air Defense Regiment 257
  • Northeastern region:
    • Air Defense Regiment 274

Course of the war

Preparation of war

According to Vietnam,[39] since January 1979 Chinese forces performed numerous reconnaissance activities across the border and made 230 violations into Vietnamese land. To prepare for a possible Chinese invasion, Central Military Committee of Vietnam Communist Party ordered all armed forces across the border to be on stand-by mode.

Chinese Engagement

On February 17, 1979, a People's Liberation Army (PLA) force of about 200,000 troops supported by 200 Type 59, Type 62, and Type 63 tanks entered northern Vietnam in the PLA's first major combat operation since the end of the Korean War in 1953.[40]

The PLA invasion was conducted in 2 directions: western and eastern

Vietnamese Counter-attacks [38]

Vietnam quickly mobilized all its main forces in Cambodia, southern Vietnam and central Vietnam to northern border. From 18 February to 25 February, the 327th Infantry Division of Military District 3 and the 337th Infantry Division of Military District 4 were deployed to join Military District 1 for the defense of northwestern region. From 6 March to 11 March the Second Corp (Huong Giang Corp) stationed in Cambodia was deployed back to Hanoi

The Air Divisions 372 in central Vietnam as well as Air Regiments 917, 935 and 937 in southern Vietnam were quickly deployed to the north.

Soviet support to Vietnam

The Soviet Union, although it did not take direct military action, provided intelligence and equipment support for Vietnam.[41] A large airlift was established by Soviet Union to mobilize Vietnamese troops stationed in Cambodia to Northern Vietnam. Moscow also provided a total of 400 tanks and armor personnel carriers (APCs), 500 mortar artillery and air defense artillery, 50 BM-21 rocket launchers, 400 portable surface-to-air missiles, 800 anti-tank missiles and 20 jet fighters. About 5000 - 8000 Soviet military advisers were present in Vietnam from 8/1979 to mid-1979 to train Vietnamese soldiers.

During the Sino-Vietnamese War, the Soviet Union deployed troops at the Sino-Soviet border and Mongolian-Chinese border as an act of showing support to Vietnam, as well as tying up Chinese troops. However, the Soviets refused to take any direct action to defend their ally.[42]


The PLA advanced quickly about 15–20 kilometers into Vietnam, with fighting mainly occurring in the provinces of Cao Bằng, Lào Cai and Lạng Sơn. The Vietnamese avoided mobilizing their regular divisions, and held back some 300,000 troops for the defence of Hanoi. The People's Army of Vietnam (VPA) tried to avoid direct combat and often used guerrilla tactics.

The initial PLA attack soon lost its momentum and a new attack wave was sent in with 8 PLA divisions joining the battle. After capturing the northern heights above Lang Son, the PLA surrounded and paused in front of the city in order to lure the VPA into reinforcing it with units from Cambodia. This had been the main strategic ploy in the Chinese war plan as Deng did not want to risk an escalation involving the Soviet Union. The VPA high command, after a tip-off from Soviet satellite intelligence, was able to see through the trap[citation needed], however, and committed reserves only to Hanoi.

Once this became clear to the PLA, the war was practically over. An assault was still mounted, but the Vietnamese only committed one VPA regiment defending the city.[citation needed] After three days of bloody house-to-house fighting, Lang Son fell on March 6. The PLA then took the southern heights above Lang Son[43] and occupied Sapa. The PLA claimed to have crushed several of the VPA regular units.[9]

The PLA now resumed their attacks aimed at the major provincial capitals and key communication centres in the border hinter land. Major battles developed at Cao Bằng, Lang Son, Hoang Lien Son, Lai Chau and Quang Ninh. The aim of these attacks was to draw in the regular VPA formations and inflict heavy attrition on them through classical "meat-grinder" operations. There were fierce attacks and counterattacks; in Lang Son the Chinese launched 17 counterattacks to regain one objective.

By late last week of February, the Vietnamese had still not committed any of their regular divisions which were being held back for the defence of Hanoi. They had also not pulled out any of their 150,000 troops in Cambodia.

On March 6, China declared that the gate to Hanoi was open and that their punitive mission had been achieved. On the way back to the Chinese border, the PLA destroyed all local infrastructure and housing and looted all useful equipment and resources (including livestock), severely weakening the economy of Vietnam's northernmost provinces.[9] The PLA crossed the border back into China on March 16. Both sides declared victory with China claiming to have crushed the Vietnamese resistance and Vietnam claiming to have repelled the invasion using mostly border militias. Dr. Henry J. Kenny, a research scientist for CNA, points out that most western writers agree Vietnam outperformed the PLA on the battlefield.[44]

In response to China's attack, the Soviet Union sent several naval vessels and initiated an arms airlift to Vietnam. However the Soviet Union felt that there was simply no way that they could directly support Vietnam against China; the distances were too great to be an effective ally, and any sort of reinforcements would have to cross territory controlled by China or U.S. allies. The only realistic option would be to restart the unresolved border conflict with China. Vietnam was important to Soviet policy but not enough for the Soviets to go to war over. When Moscow did not intervene, Beijing publicly proclaimed that the Soviet Union had broken its numerous promises to assist Vietnam.


File:Nam quan.JPG
Nam Quan Gate

China and Vietnam each lost thousands of troops, and China lost 3,446 million yuan in overhead, which delayed completion of their 1979–80 economic plan.[45] Following the war, the Vietnamese leadership took various repressive measures to deal with the problem of real or potential collaboration. In the spring of 1979, the authorities expelled approx. 8,000 Hoa people from Hanoi to the southern "New Economic Zones," and partially resettled the Hmong tribes and other ethnic minorities from the northernmost provinces. In response to the defection of Hoàng Văn Hoan, a purge was launched to cleanse the Communist Party of Vietnam from pro-Chinese elements and persons who had surrendered to the advancing Chinese troops during the war. In 1979, a total of 20,468 members were expelled from the party.[46] Although Vietnam continued to occupy Cambodia, China successfully mobilized international opposition to the occupation, rallying such leaders as Cambodia's deposed king Norodom Sihanouk, Cambodian anticommunist leader Son Sann, and high-ranking members of the Khmer Rouge to deny the pro-Vietnamese Cambodian People's Party in Cambodia diplomatic recognition beyond the Soviet bloc. China improved relations with ASEAN by promising protection to Thailand and Singapore against "Vietnamese aggression". In contrast, Vietnam's decreasing prestige in the region led it to be more dependent on the Soviet Union, to which it leased a naval base at Cam Ranh Bay.[47] On March 1, 2005, Howard W. French wrote in The New York Times: Some historians stated that the war was started by Mr. Deng (China's then paramount leader Deng Xiaoping) to keep the army preoccupied while he consolidated power...[48]

Chinese casualties

The number of casualties during the war is disputed. Vietnamese source claimed the PLA had suffered 62,500 total casualties, 550 military vehicles, and 115 artillery pieces destroyed;[49] while Chinese democracy activist Wei Jingsheng told western media in 1980 that the Chinese troops had suffered 9,000 deaths and about 10,000 wounded during the war.[50] New leaks from Chinese military sources indicated that China only suffered 6,954 dead,[5][9][51]

Vietnamese casualties

Like their Chinese counterparts, the Vietnamese government has never announced any information on its actual military casualties. China estimated that Vietnam lost 57,000 soldiers and 70,000 militia members during the war.[50][52][53] The official Nhân Dân newspaper claimed that Vietnam suffered more than 100,000 civilian deaths during the Chinese invasion[54][55] and earlier on May 17, 1979, reported statistics on heavy losses of industry and agriculture properties.[54]


File:Vietnamese soldiers captured by Chinese.jpg
Vietnamese soldiers captured by the Chinese.

The Chinese held 1,636 Vietnamese prisoners and the Vietnamese held 238 Chinese prisoners; they were exchanged in May–June 1979.[11][12]

The 238 Chinese male soldiers surrendered after getting separated from their main unit during the withdrawal from Vietnam and became surrounded by Vietnamese. After surrendering, they were transferred by the Vietnamese soldiers to a prison. The Chinese prisoners reported that they were subjected to torturous and inhumane treatment, such as being blindfolded and having their bodies bound and restrained with metal wire. Vietnamese women soldiers made up one-third of the guards who held the Chinese male prisoners captive in the prison.[56] The Vietnamese arranged for foreign journalists to take photographs of Chinese male soldiers held captive by Vietnamese women militia with Type-56 rifles.[57][58] Vietnam Pictorial published a collage contrasting a photo of a Vietnamese female fighter and a Chinese male prisoner with an earlier photo of a Vietnamese female fighter and American male prisoner for propaganda purposes.[59]

Some of the Vietnamese soldiers taken prisoner by China were women.[60][61]

Sino-Vietnamese relations after the war

Border skirmishes continued throughout the 1980s, including a significant skirmish in April 1984 and a naval battle over the Spratly Islands in 1988 known as the Johnson South Reef Skirmish.

Armed conflict only ended in 1989 after the Vietnamese agreed to fully withdraw from Cambodia. Both nations planned the normalization of their relations in a secret summit in Chengdu in September 1990, and officially normalized ties in November 1991.

In 1999 after many years of negotiations, China and Vietnam signed a border pact.[62] There was an adjustment of the land border, resulting in Vietnam giving China part of its land which were lost during the battle, including the Ai Nam Quan Gate which served as the traditional border marker and entry point between Vietnam and China, which caused widespread frustration within Vietnam. Vietnam's official news service reported the implementation of the new border around August 2001. In January 2009 the border demarcation was officially completed, signed by Deputy Foreign Minister Vu Dung on the Vietnamese side and his Chinese counterpart, Wu Dawei, on the Chinese side.[citation needed] Both the Paracel (Hoàng Sa: Vietnamese) (Xīshā: Chinese) and Spratly (Trường Sa: Vietnamese) (Nansha: Chinese) islands remain a point of contention.[citation needed]

The December 2007 announcement of a plan to build a Hanoi-Kunming highway was a landmark in Sino-Vietnamese relations. The road will traverse the border that once served as a battleground. It should contribute to demilitarizing the border region, as well as facilitating trade and industrial cooperation between the nations.[63]

In popular culture

Chinese media

There are a number of Chinese songs, movies and T.V. programs depicting and discussing this conflict from the Chinese viewpoint. These vary from the patriotic song "Bloodstained Glory" originally written to laud the sacrifice and service of the Chinese military, to the 1986 film The Big Parade which carried (as far as possible in China at that time) veiled criticism of the war.[citation needed]

Vietnamese media

The war was mentioned in the film Đất mẹ (Motherland) directed by Hải Ninh in 1980 and Thị xã trong tầm tay (Town at the Fingertips) directed by Đặng Nhật Minh in 1982.[64] Besides in 1982, a documentary film called Hoa đưa hương nơi đât anh nằm (Flowers over Your Grave) was directed by Truong Thanh, the film told a story of a Japanese journalist who died during the war.[65] During the war, there were numerous patriotic songs produced to boost the nationalism of Vietnamese people, including "Chiến đấu vì độc lập tự do" ("Fight for Independence and Freedom") composed by Phạm Tuyên, "Lời tạm biệt lúc lên đường" ("Farewell When Leaving") by Vu Trong Hoi, "40 thế kỷ cùng ra trận" ("40 Centuries We Fought Side By Side") by Hong Dang, "Những đôi mắt mang hình viên đạn" ("The Angry Gaze") by Tran Tien and "Hát về anh" (Sing for you) by The Hien. The Sino-Vietnamese War also appeared in some novels such as: Đêm tháng Hai (Night of February) written by Chu Lai in 1979 and Chân dung người hàng xóm (Portrait of the Neighborhood) written by Duong Thu Huong in 1979.

See also


  1. ^ Nayan Chanda, "End of the Battle but Not of the War", p. 10. Khu vực có giá trị tượng trưng tinh thần nhất là khoảng 300m đường xe lửa giữa Hữu Nghị Quan và trạm kiểm soát biên giới Việt Nam.
  2. ^ Nguyen, Can Van. "Sino-Vietnamese Border Issues". NGO Realm. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  3. ^ Nguyen, Can Van. "INTERVIEW ON TERRITORY AND TERRITORIAL WATERS". Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  4. ^ Zygmunt Czarnotta and Zbigniew Moszumański, Altair Publishing, Warszawa 1995, ISBN 83-86217-16-2
  5. ^ a b c d Zhang Xiaoming, "China's 1979 War with Vietnam: A Reassessment", China Quarterly, Issue no. 184 (December 2005), pp. 851–874. Actually are thought to have been 200,000 with 400 – 550 tanks. Zhang writes that: "Existing scholarship tends towards an estimate of as many as 25,000 PLA killed in action and another 37,000 wounded. Recently available Chinese sources categorize the PLA’s losses as 6,594 dead and some 21,000 injured, giving a total of 24,000 casualties from an invasion force of 200,000."
  6. ^ King V. Chen(1987):China's War With Việt Nam, 1979. Hoover Institution Press, Stanford University, page 103
  7. ^ Russell D. Howard, THE CHINESE PEOPLE'S LIBERATION ARMY: "SHORT ARMS AND SLOW LEGS", INSS Occasional Paper 28: Regional Security Series, USAF Institute for National Security Studies, USAF Academy, September 1999
  8. ^ a b Tonnesson, Bởi Stein (2010). Vietnam 1946: How the War Began. University of California Press. p. 2. ISBN 9780520256026. 
  9. ^ a b c d e 《对越自卫反击作战工作总结》Work summary on counter strike (1979–1987) published by The rear services of Chinese Kunming Military Region
  10. ^ China at War: An Encyclopedia, p. 413, at Google Books
  11. ^ a b c Chan, Gerald (1989). China and international organizations: participation in non-governmental organizations since 1971 (illustrated ed.). Oxford University Press. p. 80. ISBN 0195827384. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  12. ^ a b c Military Law Review, Volumes 119-122. Volumes 27-100 of DA pam. Contributors United States. Dept. of the Army, Judge Advocate General's School (United States. Army). Headquarters, Department of the Army. 1988. p. 72. Retrieved May 22, 2012. 
  13. ^ Vietnam, p. 158, at Google Books
  14. ^ Concerning US backing, as Dr. Henry Kissinger in "On China" (p.372) notes "American ideals had encountered the imperatives of geopolitical reality."
  15. ^ Kissinger, H. On China, Penguin, New York, p.346
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